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Ohio’s abortion battle

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Abortion Supreme Court 6 8 20 1 Ohio's abortion battle

The battle for abortion is on in Ohio.

In two weeks, voters will determine the future of abortion in the Buckeye State. Secular voters can spread the word about the abortion-rights amendment and the religious efforts to prevent its passage.

Issue 1, also known as The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety, would prohibit the state from interfering in the decision to have an abortion.

Specifically, Issue 1 would amend Article 1 of the Ohio Constitution to say: “Every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions on contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage care, and abortion.” If voters support Issue 1, abortion would be allowed up until 22 weeks of gestation.

This would be a significant victory for reproductive freedom. When Roe v. Wade was overturned on June 24, 2022, a six-week abortion ban went into effect in Ohio, although the ban is currently blocked in a challenge through the courts. The passage of Issue 1 would ensure abortion remains a right for Ohioans.

Notably, Issue 1 would also reverse the parental consent law in Ohio. This would mean that minors wouldn’t need parental permission to choose abortion. (Research has indicated that parental consent laws put young people in danger and delay abortion care.) A new poll from Baldwin Wallace University Ohio has found that nearly 60 percent of voters support Issue 1.

But that is not stopping the religious interests from spending big money on opposing the measure. In fact, dioceses have spent millions of dollars in anti-abortion efforts. Since early voting began in Ohio on Oct. 11, Catholic churches have been urging parishioners to vote early and against Issue 1.

For example, on the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland’s main website, there is a huge message urging parishioners to vote “no” on Issue 1. Other Catholic messaging provide preposterous lies about Issue 1, alleging that it will put women at risk and allow for abortions all the way through nine months of pregnancy.

Unfortunately, the Ohio state director of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America claims that the group has already reached 375,000 voters across 50 counties and expects to reach half a million voters by Election Day.

Should religious interests successfully defeat Issue 1, the results would be disastrous for reproductive freedom. Rejecting Issue 1 would not just turn down the constitutional amendment, it could also put the six-week abortion ban back into place. Without exceptions for rape or incest, the abortion ban places lives at risk.

For instance, a 10-year-old rape victim was forced to travel to Indiana for an abortion because of Ohio’s draconian anti-abortion legislation. In sworn affidavits, at least two more minors who were victims of sexual assault also had to travel out of state for an abortion. (As an aside, abortion is now completely banned in Indiana so it would no longer be an abortion option if the six-week ban goes back into effect.)

We can inform others about how to get to the polls and show up for reproductive health at the ballot box. Election Day in Ohio is Nov. 7. Ohioans, you can find your polling location here.

Abortion is health care and a human right. As a secular nation, our laws should reflect that.

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